But which came out on top in 2013?
He might be ranked #33 on Forbes’ annual Midas List, but Benchmark’s Bill Gurley is our clear #1.
Gurley has been investing for over a decade. Two of his firm’s investments became multiple billion-dollar companies this year, Snapchat and Uber.
Benchmark invested in Snapchat’s 2012 Series A round of financing. Now the disappearing photo app is worth $US2 billion.
Gurley is also on Uber’s board of directors. Uber’s leaked revenue figures show the company is generating $US20 million per week. Gurley invested in the company’s 2011 Series A round of financing; now Uber is worth $US3.4 billion. Benchmark was one of three investors in Uber’s most recent round.
Benchmark has also invested in Quip, a tablet word processing application founded by former Facebook CTO Bret Taylor, Instagram, and Twitter. Twitter went public this year; Instagram was previously acquired by Facebook for $US1 billion.
In addition to his Uber and Snapchat investments, Gurley has backed local social network Nextdoor, content personalisation startup Sailthru, and Airbnb for dogs, DogVacay.
Gurley shed some light on his investing strategy at this year’s Fortune Brainstorm conference.
His first bit of advice is to never back an entrepreneur who is afraid.
“You want a ceo who’s not afraid to play at the next level,” Gurley told Fortune’s Dan Primack. “I always like to point to Jeff Bezos, Marc Benioff and Reed Hastings. They never complained about going public…You never want to back people who are afraid to be out there.”
As for the investment thesis that lead him to Snapchat, Gurley explained:
“The thing that I would say that has become fundamentally true in the venture world is that these social network type plays have taken off and generated immense viewership very quickly, it has typically been associated with a higher probability of a higher price at a later stage outcome and that’s happened over and over and over again. You combine that with what I would say with what I would say is one of the loosest and most active late stage finance environments and that’s the answer to you equation.
“We have some fundamental beliefs about why Snapchat’s working. A lot of younger people feel like Facebook’s — what we heard from younger people is that Facebook is LinkedIn to them. And what they mean by that is the permanence of it and who can see it — their mother and teacher and their neighbour, and they just wanted a place to communicate that didn’t have that element that lack of privacy. It’s one of the fastest growing companies we’ve seen or been involved in.”
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